There are some things that probably make more sense on the pages of a comic book than spoken aloud in a film. The character name Roysiphus Pulsifer is high up on that list. (It joins the triumvirate of 2013 head-scratchers, alongside Cipher Raige and Stacker Pentecost.) In reading reviews of "R.I.P.D.," the consensus seems to be that six-syllable tongue twister of a name isn't remotely the most unusual thing about the proceedings. There's a plot point involving food here that might be the most delightfully wacky thing since the ending of "Safe Haven."
As for the basic plot synopsis, Ryan Reynolds plays a police officer who, after being killed in the line of duty, is enlisted to serve in an afterlife task force of sorts. He serves alongside Jeff Bridge's aforementioned Pulsifer (who, many reviews thankfully point out, just goes by Roy). Together, they fight the mysterious evils of the in-between world that remains closed off to human perception even as it catches the entire city of Boston in its wake.
We haven't seen critical vitriol towards a film like this, since...well, last week. How quickly we forget all that deer urination.
Anyway, maybe it's a testament to how it's being received other places that early grades on the film page for "R.I.P.D." are somewhere in the "C" range. Variety's Joe Leydon went so far as to describe it, "Not quite as bad as I expected." (That's going to look great on the DVD cover!) But most of our choice sampling of other reviews could barely muster even a backhand compliment.
Here are ten great lines from ten brutal reviews of "R.I.P.D.":
"If trapped in a cineplex with the doors barred from the outside, you could pretty easily fritter away its running time by replaying four whole classic Roseanne episodes in your head. And still have about eight whole minutes left over to imagine some products you might like to purchase in the mall after."
"The plot manages to be fully predictable and freakishly bonkers at the same time, seemingly born of the same kind of brainstorming-on-L.S.D. session that must have given us 'Howard the Duck.'"
"It would appear that a lot of effort was put into the digital effects used to create the dead ghouls, but it’s hard to get too excited when the characters themselves don’t have memorable personalities. But then again, not much else in this movie is memorable either."
"The 3D seems like it would benefit from this, but instead, it’s used for scatological effect, most prominently in scenes where characters drop food and vomit onto the screen, right into your 3D eyeline. It’s an appropriate metaphor."
"While we can all agree that Mr. Bridges is an iconic performer that should be cherished, we must also admit that the man is fallible. His schtick here wears thin about 30 minutes into the film, and he’s introduced about 15 minutes in."
"But then, sadly, 'R.I.P.D.' jolts you back into reality with a scene that has no bearing on anything that’s come before, and that vaguely chemical taste in your mouth is the realization that there’s a giant hole where the “movie” part of the movie should be, replaced only by a massive CGI budget."
"There's no doubt in my mind Universal gave up on 'R.I.P.D.' as soon as they saw a first cut and were willing to only do the bare minimum to salvage what they could."
"You can't even see the actors' mouths on most of the 'plot stuff,' and that means R.I.P.D. was probably re-cut 19 times before the actors were tossed into a booth to help make sense of the plot with dialogue like 'So that's why the demons need the gold for their ceremony that we talked about in the last three scenes!' (I'm paraphrasing.)"
Richard Corliss, TIME:
"The film is so terribly edited that home video viewers might even be able to catch Reynolds at one point throwing up his hands in frustration at the end of a scene before it cuts away."
"A half-hour into the film, and it feels like the eighth day of jury duty."